The University of Nevada, Reno announced a $10 million gift from International Game Technology and a private benefactor Tuesday for a new "knowledge center" to replace an aging library.
The Reno-based IGT contributed $5 million and former IGT chairman and his wife, Chuck and Ann Mathewson, donated the other $5 million toward the $66 million state-of-the art replacement for the 42-year-old Getchell Library on the Reno campus.
"We are extraordinarily grateful for the personal generosity of Ann and Chuck Mathewson and to IGT in providing this historic university-wide gift," UNR President John Lilley said during a news conference.
"With the important financial commitments we've already received from our students and the state, this collaborative gift moves the creation of this center to within several million dollars of full funding."
Chuck Mathewson, IGT chairman emeritus, credited Lilley with sparking his interest in the project.
"I happen to like libraries, and calling this new facility the knowledge center really pushed a button with me," he said.
State lawmakers, when they approved the project, required funding be shared between private and public sources. Nevada agreed to finance $22 million and students agreed to a similar amount through higher fees, leaving $22 to be raised in private funds.
"This gets us almost to the end," said state Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, a key supporter of the project who said total private funds amount to roughly $19 million.
"For all intents and purposes, now it is a sure project."
UNR hopes to break ground for the project next spring.
The center will be the "physical, intellectual and cultural hub" of the university and a "magnet for faculty, student and civic interaction and learning," Lilley said.
It will include an auditorium, an art gallery and the one of the largest collect of Basque materials in the Western hemisphere, officials said.
It also will be equipped with sophisticated computer equipment and software and staffed by "information specialists" to assist students and faculty with advanced online database searches and other informational materials and presentations.
IGT Chairman Tom Baker also praised the Mathewsons, saying it was their determination and generosity that precipitated the gift.
He said IGT, the world's largest maker of high-tech gambling systems and machines, hires a lot of UNR graduates.
"A good strong university system is important to our company," he said.